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Grammar Mishaps: Adjective Degrees - Positive, Comparative and Superlative Adjectives

Taylor is goofy, Georgia is goofier, but Aiden is the goofiest!

grammar_mishaps_positive__comparitive_and_superlative_adjectives

Three Degrees of Adjectives

I received another hub request on the degrees of adjectives: positive, comparative and superlative. I'll attempt to give the basic breakdown of each and how they are interrelated.

Adjectives modify nouns or pronouns. They can answer, which, what kind, or how many. We can use three forms to compare adjectives: positive, comparative and superlative. We use these degrees of adjectives to show points of reference.

Positive Adjectives

Positive adjectives stand alone. They are the sole modifier of a noun or pronoun. They do not compare the noun/pronoun with any other. Even though they are called "positive" adjectives they can describe something negative.

For example:

  • Her blue hat was brilliant. (Blue is the positive adjective modifying the noun, hat.)
  • She was a smart woman. (Smart is the positive adjective modifying the noun, woman.)

Comparative Adjectives

Comparative adjectives are used when describing the differences between ONLY two items.

For example, take the two words: orangutan and rhinoceros

  • Rhinoceros is a longer word than orangutan; or
  • Orangutan is a shorter word than rhinoceros.

Comparative adjectives, used to describe only two items, can be used to describe groups of items as long as there are only two groups.

For example:

  • Their swim team was faster than our swim team.

Comparative Adjective Suffixes

With one syllable adjectives and sometimes two syllable adjectives, especially those ending in "y", we add the suffix "er". When the adjective is multi-syllabic we sometimes use the the terms "more" or "less" to describe the comparison. Never use both "er" and "more" or "less". E.g., The meal was more better than last night. This is INCORRECT.

For example:

  • big, bigger
  • happy, happier
  • obnoxious, more obnoxious
  • careful, less careful

Note:

  • When the adjective ends in "e" just add an "r". (E.g., late, later)
  • When the adjective has a consonant, vowel, consonant ending, double the ending letter and add "er". (E.g., red, redder)
  • When the adjective ends in a "y", change the "y" to "i" and add "er". (E.g., early, earlier)

Remember: There are always irregular forms that don't follow these rules. E.g., good, better; bad, worse; little, less.

Superlative Adjectives

Superlative adjectives are used when describing three items or more. Superlative adjectives are never used with two items. They are used to express the highest degree of the item you are expressing in comparison to the other items. They are the most extreme in the group of items.

For example, take the three words: orangutan, rhinoceros, and hippopotamus

  • Hippopotamus is the longest word; or
  • Orangutan is the shortest word.

Superlative Adjective Suffixes

With one syllable adjectives and sometimes two syllable adjectives, especially those ending in "y", we add the suffix "est". When the adjective is multi-syllabic we sometimes use the the terms "most" or "least" to describe the comparison. Never use both "est" and "most" or "least".

For example:

  • big, bigger, biggest
  • happy, happier, happiest
  • obnoxious, more obnoxious, most obnoxious
  • careful, less careful, least careful

Note:

  • When the adjective ends in "e" just add an "st". (E.g., late, later, latest)
  • When the adjective has a consonant, vowel, consonant ending, double the ending letter and add "est". (E.g., red, redder, reddest)
  • When the adjective ends in a "y", change the "y" to "i" and add "est". (E.g., early, earlier, earliest)

Again, remember: There are always irregular forms that don't follow these rules. E.g., good, better, best; bad, worse, worst; little, less, least.

Thoughts, Comments, Questions?

Melody Collins from United States on June 16, 2012:

I always have a difficult time remembering the three types of adjectives and how they are modified! The way you state it in this hub is easy to understand and remember!

vanz on March 22, 2012:

what is the comparative degree for many?

jeraldine on February 14, 2012:

what is positive,comparative and superlative degree of the word in and out.

Francis on February 05, 2012:

What is the positive, comparative and superlative degree of the word in and out

maria pamela v. devillena on January 21, 2012:

oh my god this is great

Sham on January 09, 2012:

Got my answers !!!!!!

sarah on December 19, 2011:

This is great thank you

kim, on December 12, 2011:

thank's sa sagot now i know

CathErine LoPez on December 12, 2011:

...thanks for the info about the adjectives!!... this was helpful :-)

Mike on November 27, 2011:

This was nice! keep it up.

xyna mae cute on November 16, 2011:

thanks for your examples

taewoo on November 13, 2011:

this is awesome it helps me a lot

jaceen on November 11, 2011:

it's less than twenty miles to dallas

D. R. K. Sarma on November 10, 2011:

Is it correct if I say more noisy and most noisy. can`t we say noise-noiser-noisest which I think does n`t exist.Please clarify.

justin on November 09, 2011:

i can make my assignment because of this...

this is really fan..

maryrosechathaiaz on November 06, 2011:

its was so great to have my assignment....thanks for the info..;)

Jennychuk on October 16, 2011:

You have made my day, it was fantastic you have refresh my memory and help me in my teaching work.

Maaz khan on October 14, 2011:

please tell me the comparative and super degrees of :) safe, unjust, gay. And numerous

padhu on October 13, 2011:

Thanks for the infos :)

Ram on October 12, 2011:

This site is very useful to learn english.

nounoo on October 06, 2011:

what u do is great.It helps me improving my english.but what about gentle and auther similar adjectives?

lea angelie silva on October 05, 2011:

oh...... it helps me to answer my assignments thanks!!!!!!!!!!!

olivelaurel on October 02, 2011:

i love english subject.........

NUR-----AIN BTE LASA on September 28, 2011:

NOW,I NOW WHAT IS THE POSITIVE COMPARATIVE SUPERLATIVE .THANKS FOREVER..................

aarya khanal on September 25, 2011:

very nice well done................

Micheal on September 11, 2011:

Is it correct to use the words extreme and end together in a sentence?

RC REDDY on August 17, 2011:

I've been searching for comparitive form of the adjective"super"

xxmexx on June 09, 2011:

now i can recite in front of the class

vvvv on March 07, 2011:

what are the comparative and superlative of up and late

Shreevathsa on February 09, 2011:

Hi Robbin:)what is the comparative and superlative degrees of the word "less"...

steph on February 01, 2011:

use among, in the or of the when constructing superlative adjectives like for instance: Jimmy is lucky. HIs brother Danny is luckier. The luckiest of the family is Jenny.

Ahmad on January 16, 2011:

really helpful, thanks

ygoygoy on November 21, 2010:

ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. now i understood

rimshah on November 20, 2010:

i was quiet confused but now em relax...........

Lord Voldemort on November 04, 2010:

Hey, thanks for that! I couldn't for the life of me remember what positive, comparitive and superlative adjectives were ... and I have an exam next week ...

I mean, I can use grammar perfectly in my writing, but sometimes the names people use for things are confusing - I think, yes, I can use that, and then - wait ... what?

So, thanks a lot! :)

lady asha on October 30, 2010:

thanks here i got the wrong answer :-(

farah on October 23, 2010:

very few animals are as useful as th cow

[comparative sentence and superlative degrees]

who i m on October 06, 2010:

thanks now i m become a top in my classroom yeheyyyyy

jabbawockeez on October 04, 2010:

thanks to this info.because of this a have a highest score in english!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

jesri on June 07, 2010:

thank you Robin

willian a silva on May 06, 2010:

thanks. you helped so many.

catnanny on March 21, 2010:

Actually the problem with comparatives and superlatives is about those special adjectives like pleasant, common, stupid, timid, handsome and some others which are not supposed to be formed with 'er' or 'est' but with 'more' and 'most'.But they are common now with 'er' and 'est' Moreover you can find ( and I did some time ago) in the same book, 'simpler' and 'more simple' just one page further. The same author can use both forms (not at the same time of course, not 'more simpler'). So, it means that both are correct. As to 'pleasanter'and 'pleasantest', I don't think that these are correct but you'll certainly come across them more and more often.

Noslen De Guzman on December 07, 2009:

help me for my assignment here my assignment Complete The Chart by Supplying the missing from of the adjectives here is given. POSITIVE (GREAT)>> 1.studious _____ Comperative>> (GREATER) ______ Superlative>> Greatest _____ what is the answer????

catherine on August 12, 2009:

hi tnx for the knowledge

fakiha on August 10, 2009:

it`s great.i enjoyed a lot

Ivan on May 24, 2009:

I want to find appositive

Elizabeth on April 07, 2009:

Thank you, this was awesome and helped me!

Chell on March 24, 2009:

thanks for this info! im doing this kind of stuff for some homework! im homeschooled...but i still get together with a group and studdy this stuff!!!

alexandra on March 19, 2009:

what is the comparative and superlative of bady??? i'm soooo confused...?

lilen on January 11, 2009:

it was very helpful to especially to me because i'm a graduating highschool student.Thanks!

hamid - kabul on November 12, 2008:

hi, it was very good

Teeny Tots from USA on October 08, 2008:

Wow! woooooooo

Thanks for your Education. I will learn more from your hubs.

brishna on September 25, 2008:

thanx a million my problem was solved

Al Kaabi on September 01, 2008:

Hey thank for this

beboy on August 11, 2008:

what are the part of adjective pls.,tell me the meaning plss. support me ^_^

mays on May 25, 2008:

is this right (feeling adjectives usually go before fact adjevtives)please if anyone know tell me an example

Umpa-lumpa on May 13, 2008:

good

violeta. on May 04, 2008:

thanks for help us. I am not native speaker English.I speak spanish and it is hard for me two find the differece when to use less and when to use lesser. Also I want to ask you if is correct to use -most litlle- instead of my sister is smaller than you.

Thanks a lot . Was so nice to find you www page.

Ross on March 03, 2008:

what is the comparative for super

asia on February 27, 2008:

Cool

mary on February 20, 2008:

tahank you

Jo on January 13, 2008:

Hi Robin,

Are these sentences correct?

Which of these two sports involves the highest risk: snowboarding or surfing?

Which of these two skills is the easiest to learn: ice-skating or roller blading?

If they are or aren't correct can you please explain why?

Thank you.

froilan on December 08, 2007:

thank you for your support

Vivian Marti on December 02, 2007:

Need to know how to use worse v. worst. What is the difference? Pls advise. Thank you.

angel on November 10, 2007:

hey thanks for this

Leon on October 16, 2007:

Thanks for the help. My sister was just doing her homework, which involved comparative and superlative adjectives, and we were searching all over the Web 'till we got to your page. Thanks!

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on April 10, 2007:

Hi Hannah,

Mary is bad at basketball. (Bad is the positive adjective)

Lynn is worse at basketball than Mary. (Worse is the comparitive form of the adjective bad)

Kim is the worst at basketball. (Worst is the superlative form of the adjective bad)

bad, worse, worst

Thanks for the question!

Hannah on April 09, 2007:

What is the positive and comparative of worst?

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on April 09, 2007:

Hi Carlos,

It is correct to say, "bluer" and "smarter".  Both words, "blue" and "smart", are one syllable and just require the "er" ending.  Thanks for the comment!

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on April 09, 2007:

Hi Karen,

Yes, It is correct to say, "She is one of the better..." to mean one of a possible few that are better in a group.  If you were to say, "She was the better speaker," then you would be speaking of only one person being better.  Great point!

Carlos on April 08, 2007:

How come then I hear bluer instead of more blue or more smart instead of smarter?

karen FrosK on March 04, 2007:

When one says: She was one of the better speakers at the conference, does this mean that there are only two speakers at the conference? I believe that this use is becoming common though incorrect to mean "one of the best." Am I right?

gredmondson from San Francisco, California on November 18, 2006:

Hi Robin,

Thanks so much for helping the world with grammar. Another Hub idea would be to do something on adjectives that have, by their definition, a superlative meaning. For example, "favorite" and "unique" have a superlative meaning. My female junior high students wanted to have more than one "best friend." When I told them that they coulde have only one "best" friend, they felt cheated. It didn't help much if I told them they could have all the good friends -- or wonderful friends -- that they wanted. But, then that was junior high.

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on November 16, 2006:

Good question. I believe it is okay to say "much better". When you describe something as "much better" you are saying that there is a large value gap between what your are describing. Thanks for reading!

laim on November 16, 2006:

can you say much better

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on November 15, 2006:

I greatly appreciate the comment, Oneal 1122! ;)

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on November 15, 2006:

Thanks, Tom. Good question. In this sentence brilliant was meant as wonderful, modifying the noun hat. Blue is also an adjective modifying the noun, hat. I appreciate the vote of confidence. ;)

oneal1122 on November 15, 2006:

Thanks Robin. Your hubs serve as a great refresher course for grammar writing.

misfit from England on November 14, 2006:

I haven't real training in English

So I wish that my teacher'd been you.

But please won't you answer this question -

Is it 'hat' which is brilliant, or 'blue'?

I do appreciate the free tuition. Tom.

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on November 13, 2006:

Ha, Jaym. xo

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on November 13, 2006:

Thanks, Jack. Unfortunately, I can only claim the one on the right. ;)

jmuriset from Claremont on November 13, 2006:

I love that photo!! Oh, and the hub is great, too. :) We all could have skipped grades K-6, if only we had had your grammar hubs! Wait, did I say that right? I mean, correctly? Correct? Oh forget it.

jstankevicz from Cave Creek on November 13, 2006:

Glad you included the picture to help me smile, ‘cause the topic made my head hurt. You have three adorable models that demonstrate adjectives brilliantly!

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on November 13, 2006:

Funny! I think native speakers take a lot of English usage for granted. We just say what sounds right; most of the time we're correct. Thanks! ;)

glassvisage from Northern California on November 13, 2006:

I've forgotten all about the different kinds of adjectives and I had to click just to remember what the heck they were :P

Robin Edmondson (author) from San Francisco on November 13, 2006:

Thanks, Davinne. In the beginning I didn't intend to create so many grammar hubs; it has just happened. I keep getting more requests; it's hard to keep up. Thanks for reading!;)

Davinne on November 13, 2006:

Kool your well educated as we could see. Thanx for sharing yourself with us

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